Background: In the modern clinical practice of TCM science, the formula Xihuang pill has
been widely used as a remedy for the treatment of various tumors in clinical application. Due to the
diversity of the manufacturers and relatively lower quality standards, the quality problem of Xihuang
pill frequently resulted in unstable effect in clinical application. It is imperative to develop more effective
and comprehensive quality control method capable of ensuring the safety and efficacy. The objective
of our study is to introduce GC-FID/GC-MS for multiple components quantification and fingerprint
description of the volatile oil in Xihuang pill.
Methods: A GC-FID method was developed for a chemical fingerprint analysis of Xihuang pill, and
gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry was applied for the identification of major components
in the fingerprints. In order to systematically validate the method, specificity, precision, repeatability
and stability were measured. Fingerprints data analysis was mainly performed by three
pieces of original software, namely ‘Similarity evaluation system for chromatographic fingerprint of
TCM’, SPSS and SIMCA-P+. The similarities of ten batches of Xihuang pill were characterized using
cluster analysis, PCA and similarity analysis.
Results: The Euclidean distance, cosine, and correlation coefficient of the 10 batches of Xihuang pill
were greater than 0.89, which showed that samples from different batches were basically the same and
consistent, despite some slightly differences of chemical indexes were found. The results of cluster
analysis, PCA and similarity analysis were consistent with each other, and the principal component
factors that had significant correlation with the similarity were analyzed. Combined with GC-MS, total
of 22 volatiles among 32 separated ones were identified by searching spectra database and literatures,
and their relative content was calculated by using peak area normalization method.
Conclusion: The GC-FID fingerprint combined with a variety of statistical and stoichiometry approach
could be readily utilized for comprehensive quality assessment and control of Xihuang pill.